GTM Research expects over 72 GW of new solar capacity additions by 2022 in the US, but a minimum module price scenario owing to the Suniva trade petition could lower that amount by 50%. If a cell tariff comes on top, the US market could even shrink by 66% compared to the base scenario. (Source: GTM Research)
- If Suniva’s trade petition is approved by US President Donald Trump, it may do away with two-thirds of solar power capacity from what is likely to come online in next five years in the US
- More than 47 GW may not come up at all; this is more than what the country has brought online till date, according to a GTM Research report
- Utility scale alone will take a blow of over 20 GW as it may be canceled if module prices fall back to 2012 levels
- US ITC is likely to submit its recommendations by November 13, 2017, before President Trump will make final decision
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If the US International Trade Commission (US ITC) and US President Trump decide to approve PV cell and module maker Suniva’s trade complaint, it may have disastrous ramifications for the country’s solar sector. The USA may miss out on more than 47 GW of solar installations over the next five years. This is more than what the country has brought online to date.
In April 2017, Suniva filed a petition requesting relief against PV cell and module imports from all geographic sources. This includes a minimum price on crystalline silicon PV modules (initially $0.78/Wdc) and a tariff on cells (initially $0.40/Wdc).
GTM Research’s new report ‘US Solar Outlook Under Section 201: The Trade Case’s Impact On US Solar Demand’ assesses the situations for two scenarios – minimum module price and minimum module price plus cell tariff in comparison to a base case.
“Suniva’s new trade dispute would strike a devastating blow to the U.S. solar market, erasing two-thirds of what’s expected to come online over the next five years,” says GTM Research. Adding, “If Suniva’s petition is successful, shockwaves will be felt across all segments of US solar. Utility scale solar is most at risk, with more than 20 GW already at risk of being canceled if module prices fall back to 2012 levels,” says GTM Research.
Between 2018 to 2022, total solar installations would be merely 36.4 GW under a $0.78 per watt minimum module price scenario, as against expected 72.5 GW in the base case. “Even more dramatic, with a $1.18 per watt minimum price, representing a $0.40 per watt cell tariff on top of a $0.78 per watt minimum module price, cumulative installations would plummet to 25 GW,” the market researchers warn.
Residential solar will be least affected segment with the top six states in the base case outlook continuing to offer more than 10% annual net savings. Commercial and industrial solar will suffer from challenging rate structures that would limit its savings. When adding the financing risks for community solar, the non-residential PV will experience a larger downturn than residential PV, says GTM Research.
If tariffs are approved, GTM Research believes that it is possible (but unlikely) that multiple Tier 1 cell manufacturers enter the U.S. market to support downstream demand. “Realistically, we would not see any Tier 1 module suppliers set up shop in the US market before 2019, but more importantly, we do not expect global module players to set up sufficient US based volume amid the global oversupply environment,” said GTM Research.
The US ITC will assess the determination of injury by September 22, 2017. If the injury or threat of it is found, it will recommend remedies by November 13, 2017. These will then go to the US President Donald Trump who reserves the right to accept, modify or cancel the ITC’s suggested measures.
The report is available for purchase for $1,995 on the GTM Research website.